Condition causes patients to hear too much

Published On: Dec 13 2012 08:04:00 AM CST
Medical doctor

Imagine hearing your own heartbeat pounding inside your head or your own voice echoing inside your head.  Every sound you make, every sound you hear is amplified.  That is the reality for patients who suffer from a condition called superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCD).

"My whole world just changed. I had no control over myself anymore,” said Kerrie Aitken, who suffers from SCD.

For nine months, Aitken suffered from dizziness, nausea, and depression.  Doctors did not know why.  

UCLA Head and neck surgeon Quinton Gopen pinpointed the problem inside Aitken's ear. It was smaller than a pinhead -- a little opening in the bone formed inside part of her ear canal.

Dr. Gopen opened Aitken's skull, moved the brain to get to her ear and filled the two millimeter hole with a bone wax, lined the area with muscle, and covered it with a tiny piece of bone from her skull.

“People wake up in tears, not from pain, but from joy because the noise is gone immediately after surgery,” said Dr. Gopen.

“The first thing I did not hear was that wonderful heart beating. I was so happy,” said Aitken.

 SCD was not discovered until 1998. It is just beginning to be taught to students in medical schools.

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